He’s one of the first people to arrive at any emergency during a NASCAR race, and NBC Chicago’s Lauren Petty caught up with Dr. Ryan Stanton as construction continued on the street course in Chicago.
“This is new ground for NASCAR and it's new ground for Chicago as well,” Stanton said.
Medical director for GMR Motorsports including NASCAR, Stanton leads the team response for an on-track response.
“Our goal is to be on at the incident within about 15 to 20 seconds or faster,” said Stanton.
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He wears a fire suit to ensure he can reach a driver, if it is a fiery incident. But helping the drivers is not his only concern.
“The drivers know they're taking on risk. Our fans, our spectators, we want to make sure that they're as safe as possible,” Stanton said.
He pointed to the concrete barriers lining the street course as part of the safety plan.
Health & Wellness
“We're dealing with 3,600 pound cars. And so these barriers are very heavy on their own, but we actually build strength by connecting them all together,” Stanton said.
There’s also a catch fence bolted on top of each of the barriers, designed to keep any debris inside the track.
“The construction of the fences and how everything links together, it’s all designed to keep the vehicles on the track and away from fans to keep them safe,” said Dr. Derek Robinson, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a sponsor of the Chicago Street Course.
Normally if there’s an emergency on the track at a speedway, drivers are treated at an in-field care center. That isn’t an option on the streets of Chicago, so a medical facility will be built at Turn 12, at Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard.
“That's going to come in serve as our infield care center, also supported by local fire, EMS, as well as local hospital staff,” Stanton said.
Two potential issues Stanton said he’s watching for during race weekend?
Number one: the tight turns on the Chicago Street Course.
“We're gonna have significant changes in speeds, a lot of braking. You're going to see a lot of backups and potentially bumper to bumper action going into these turns,” Stanton said.
Number two: even hotter temperatures inside the race cars than what the NASCAR drives are used to.
“When we have street courses and road courses, the temperatures inside these vehicles gets warmer because we don't have that high speed air movements,” Stanton said.
The race cars don’t have air conditioning. Temperatures can reach upwards of 120 degrees on a speedway, and Stanton is expecting the in-car temps in Chicago will be even higher.